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RELEASE: Jobs, Agriculture & Environment bill passed by Minnesota House

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tackles middle-class basics like broadband, child care & emerging issues like disease prevention

ST. PAUL, MN—The Minnesota House passed the Job Growth & Energy Affordability, Agriculture and Environment & Natural Resources Supplemental Budget bill (HF 3931) Wednesday with bipartisan support by a vote of 72-54. The legislation supplements the two-year budget passed in 2015 which included $402 million for Job Growth & Energy Affordability, $120 million for Agriculture, and $191 million for Environment & Natural Resources.

Wednesday’s supplemental budget bill makes small adjustments to increase Minnesotans’ access to everyday necessities like clean water, broadband internet, and child care and addresses emerging issues like livestock disease, economic disparities and potential state-incurred legal costs.

The Job Growth & Energy Affordability portion of the bill re-prioritizes existing spending to increase investments in key priorities including:

  • $40 million in new funding for broadband internet expansion
  • $11.5 million for the completion of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System
  • $6.4 million for proposals aimed at reducing economic disparities
  • $5 million for workforce housing targeted to Greater Minnesota

In an effort to address child care issues for Minnesota families, the bill also includes a new grant program to assist Greater Minnesota communities struggling with child care shortages and repeals the statute passed by Democrats in 2014 allowing for the unionization of independent day care providers. This repeal is in response to the overwhelming rejection of a union by Minnesota providers in an election earlier this year.

"This bill reduces corporate subsidies, promotes economic development throughout our state, and creates new opportunities for those individuals who are being left behind in the Obama economy," said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R- Farmington, Chair of the Job Growth & Energy Affordability Committee.

The Agriculture section of the bill, which received significant bipartisan support during the committee process, reprioritizes unspent avian flu emergency response dollars passed last session to farm safety including a new tractor rollover protection pilot grant program, livestock disease prevention, and response funds in the event of a future agriculture crisis.

“Last session we were able to make record investments in agriculture while addressing the avian flu crisis,” said State Representative Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, chairman of the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee. “Today, we are working to continue our investment in animal health and disease prevention while prioritizing farm safety.”

The Environment & Natural Resources part of the bill focuses on parks funding and potential legal fees related to the proposed PolyMet NorthMet Project. The additional parks funding was requested by the Department of Natural Resources, as it is anticipating an operating shortfall despite being fully funded in the biennial budget last June. The legal fee funding is needed as the state is anticipating lawsuits from either proponents or opponents of the project, depending on the state's decisions on numerous permit and other regulatory actions.

“In this bill, we’ve fully funded Governor Dayton’s request to prepare the State of Minnesota for potential lawsuits regarding PolyMet, and we’ve also provided supplemental funding for state parks,” said State Representative Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, chairman of the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee.

The Senate is expected to pass a single supplemental omnibus bill to cover all budget areas Thursday, with a conference committee to follow that will resolve differences between the House and Senate proposals.